10 Best Police Shows, Ranked By IMDb

Split Image Characters from Crime Story, Law & Order, and The Wire

Police procedurals have been on television for decades and delight fans with dramatic storylines. Many police shows take on modern-day social issues, which helps makes them more realistic for viewers who are seeing the same topics in the news. Even police shows of the past used hot-button topics to propel their storylines, even though the issues were different.

Related: 10 Best Police Procedurals That Only Lasted One Season

Police procedurals often break fans’ hearts with characters being killed off or leaving the shows in a fashion that makes fans want to stop watching the show but can’t because they are invested in the characters. Much to the delight of fans, the best police shows often run for multiple seasons before they are pulled from the air.



10 S.W.A.T (2017–Present) – 7.1

Streaming On Paramount+

S.W.A.T follows a S.W.A.T team out of Los Angeles, California, that deals with the most stressful situations in the city. Variety reported that after 6 seasons, S.W.A.T was said to be canceled, but CBS decided to bring the show back for one more season.

S.W.A.T shows the struggle that the main character Hondo, played by Shemar Moore, faces as he tries to reconcile his feelings about growing up as a Black man in Los Angeles and being a leader in the LAPD. The show handles more dramatic cases than other shows, including potential bombings and high-powered drug cartels.

9 Blue Bloods (2010–Present) – 7.7

Streaming On Paramount+

Blue Bloods has received mixed receptions throughout the show’s 13 seasons. However, it remains one of CBS’s most popular shows and shows no signs of slowing down or cancelation anytime soon. Blue Bloods follows the Reagan family as they serve in various law enforcement positions.

With each family member in a different role, fans get to see how various departments work against and with one another to ensure the safety of New York. The family aspect of Blue Bloods is the biggest draw, as no other current running police procedural puts high importance on family or shows family members working together.

8 Law & Order (1990–Present) – 7.8

Streaming On Peacock

Law & Order is one of the longest-running police shows on television. As the opening iconically states, Law & Order shows each case from two points of view, the police that catch the suspects and the lawyers who prosecute them in court. Fans of the show enjoy the “ripped from the headlines” cases that mirror a high-profile case going on in the real world and show how it could play out in court.

Related: 10 Best TV Shows With Over 20 Seasons

Law & Order has had many characters come and go throughout the years, but that hasn’t stopped fans from watching. Law & Order is such a good show that fans have made several of the show’s spin-off series major hits for NBC.

7 The Rookie (2018–Present) – 8

Streaming On Hulu

The Rookie became a hit for Fox as the show brought a new perspective to the usual formula of police procedurals. Instead of following seasoned cops, viewers follow John Nolan, the oldest rookie in LAPD history. John’s life experiences outside his time as a police officer allowed him to approach calls differently than his more senior, more experienced partners.

While The Rookie is a drama, the show has lighter, humorous moments that viewers enjoy. The Rookie also shows the officers in the show in their home lives, which humanizes the characters and helps fans get more invested in the show.

6 Hill Street Blues (1981–1987) – 8.2

Streaming On Prime Video

Hill Street Blues was one of the best police procedurals in the ’80s, as it pushed social constructs and took many risks during its six-year run on TV. Hill Street Blues showed police officers of varying races working together, which wasn’t expected from a TV show at the time.

Showrunners wrote storylines that challenged the image of police officers by showing corruption within the Hill Street Blue police department. By not specifying where the show took place, audiences could see their towns and cities as the setting and relate to what the officers were dealing with.

5 Crime Story (1986–1988) – 8.3

For Purchase On Amazon

Before the corrupt officers of Chicago PD were taking down crime rings in Chicago, there was Crime Story. Even though Crime Story aired in the ’80s, the show occurred in the 1960s. Lieutenant Michael Torello heads the Major Crime Unit and tries to stop organized crime rings from running rampant in his city.

Unlike other police shows, most of Crime Story focuses on one villain trying to become Chicago’s most powerful crime boss. Ray Luca proves to be Torello’s most significant opponent. Fans of the show became invested in seeing Torello take down Luca, making Crime Story feel like an epic superhero story and a police show.

4 Southland (2009–2013) – 8.5

For Purchase On Amazon

Southland was a short-lived police procedural that takes place in Los Angeles. While Southland was like many other police shows focusing on the lives and jobs of police officers, it was grittier and more realistic. Southland used a unique form of storytelling to show how a case unfolded.

Related: 10 Best Police Procedurals With The Best Twists

Each case was told from different points of view. This showed that each officer experienced and remembered each situation differently, just as people do in real life. Viewers had to decide where the truth lay between the stories, making the show more immersive for fans.

3 Justified (2010–2015) – 8.6

Streaming On Hulu

Justified was one of the few neo-Western shows that focused on the traditional role of the Sheriff from Western movies. US Marshal Raylan Givens plays by his own rules and feels his responsibility is to bring justice to those who want to harm his town.

Justified revived a genre many television viewers had forgotten about and renewed interest in the Wild West setting. There are old-school shoot-outs and dangerous terrains in Justified that give the show a nostalgic feel that other shows have shied away from as technology becomes more prominent for real-life police officers.

2 The Shield (2002–2008) – 8.7

Streaming On Hulu

The Shield follows corrupt police officer Vic Mackey and the unit he leads, which is also corrupt. As part of the LAPD, Vic Makcey’s corruption provides commentary on the LAPD’s past of corruption and mishandling of cases.

The Shield was one of the first shows to depict police as corruptible and comment on the mishandling of police procedures in such an intense way. The characters on the show often break the law to serve their interests, creating a web of lies that the officers have to try and keep in order. As one of the most intense police show, The Shield has received praise for pushing the boundaries of what a police show can focus on and how cases end.

1 The Wire (2002–2008) – 9.3

Streaming On Max

Despite only running for 60 episodes, The Wire is one of the most talked about and ground-breaking shows about police procedures to air on television. The show covered a lot of ground and different points of view regarding the war on drugs in Baltimore, Maryland. The Wire did not shy away from critiquing American politics and its effects on America’s inner cities.

When The Wire aired, the war on drugs was not critiqued on television, but The Wire brazenly commented on the controversial social topic. The Wire also discussed race in a way that other police shows shied away from making one of the most controversial yet unique shows on television.

Next: 10 Best Police Procedurals You’ve Never Heard Of


#Police #Shows #Ranked #IMDb

Funimation India

Learn More →